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PC World

Bands and fans rub elbows on

June 9, 1999
Web posted at: 9:28 a.m. EDT (1328 GMT)

by Christian McIntosh

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(IDG) -- If you want to buy a book online, jumps to mind. Most people equate online auctions with eBay. Virtual Vineyards has staked a claim to wine on the Web and E-Trade is synonymous with stocks. But what about downloadable music?

To date, a leader has yet to emerge from the splintered landscape of MP3 dealers, independent music hubs, and underground commerce sites. Ken Wirt, the strategic mind behind Diamond Multimedia's portable RioPlayer, hopes to change that.

Wirt on Monday launched his latest, a well-oiled digital music portal that caters to both musicians and enthusiasts. More than a full-featured online music destination for consumers, aspires to provide artists with an avenue to distribute their music and interact with their fans, Wirt says: "We want to emulate real life."

Fans, meet bands features personalized fan pages, song charts based on customer ratings, and customized home pages for registered bands and solo artists. Musicians can interact with fans through live chats, discussion boards, and direct e-mail. Plus, artists registered with receive daily sales reports, song rankings, and a marketing kit including business cards and stickers.

And the revenue breakdown between and its artists compares favorably to rival sites. While destinations such as and broker 50-50 revenue splits with registered musicians, exacts a scant 15-percent cut of all sales and waives all set-up fees. plans to make up the difference with advertising fees.

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Bands on can publish upcoming concert dates, downloadable music previews, and news. You can purchase CDs directly from as well as T-shirts, posters, and other merchandise. also provides fans with unfettered access to their favorite artists. You can visit artist home pages and post messages, questions, and reviews to their discussion boards. Unsigned and undiscovered bands get real-time and real-world feedback, Wirt says. encourages fans to engage bands via e-mail. By doing so, fans can interact directly with the musicians, and bands can compile direct mailing lists to promote upcoming shows and album releases.

Fans, meet fans

Forums where fans can discuss their musical likes and dislikes round out the community. At the heart of's personalization campaign is the My Riffage member network.

Every time you log onto and pull up your My Riffage page, you will find community recommendations culled from like-minded members. Each member page lists favorite songs, bands, and genres. You can post reviews, access peer reviews, and edit your user profile at any time.

My Riffage members also can assemble playlists of custom compilations and even produce a personal "radio show."

"By radio show, we mean a streaming playlist," Wirt explains. "You can convert your playlist choices into a streaming format and send it to other users."

Future plans for include free educational resources on all aspects of the music industry. will offer advice on everything from publishing rights and regulations to sample contracts, agent listings, and equipment sales.

Music industry points the way for mainstream digital audio
June 2, 1999
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May 20, 1999
Find it on the Web
May 12, 1999
MP3 audio enters the mainstream
May 4, 1999

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